I wonder if the Adrias would consider issuing loyalty cards? I’ve been to all of their Barcelona concepts now, bar 41° and I feel that since I’ve managed to hit them all, my financial contribution and general enthusiasm should warrant a complimentary cocktail at the very least or maybe a t-shirt?
Hoja Santa shares the same building with Niño Viejo (which I reviewed in September) but is allocated miles more space. The tables are large and the space between them is substantial. Albert Adria and Paco Méndez take Mexican food and do what Adria does best; make it bite size, crispy and tart – or in the case of the spherified olive (a dish you are guaranteed to get no matter which restaurant you choose) oozy with a penchant for bursting. In a lot of ways, the best dishes are like really good flavoured crisps – extremely crunchy, with pockets of salty, sweet, sour and umami in the most surprising of nooks.
The most innovative thing about Hoja Santa is not the food – which if you’ve been to a few places you come to expect – it’s the layout of the seating; pivoted to face the kitchens which are substantial and open (with the exception of prep which is squashed towards the far end).
This statement seating is acknowledging and accepting the trend of eating out today: we do it for sport and we are all consumed by kitchen voyeurism. Somehow, chefs became the new rock stars and we all turned into groupies.
Except by the time the curtain rises on the kitchens of Hoja Santa – the cooking has already happened. By now, the kitchen is mostly keeping things warm and using tweezers to pile gem sized elements onto bite sized bases.
But oh it is beautiful to behold and to eat. If you are going to go high-end – these guys are some of the best because they dare to make it fun and they’ve stripped away what I always consider to be the worst part of high-end dining, the pomp and the starch.
See this and find more addresses on my Foodie in Barcelona Map
Av. Mistral 54